Being “Normal” Versus Being Natural

Is there some Urkel in you?

All my life I have struggled with being “normal”.  No, you wouldn’t find me with my Fruit o’ the Looms on my head singing Girls Just Wanna Have Fun or anything like that.  I just rarely did what I was expected to do.  Expectations indicate having some preconceived notion of how events should unfold in some future moment based on past experience, hearsay, or suspicion.  That’s not how I like to live. For the most part I do what I do when I do it–in real time. And for most people that’s just abnormal. 

These days people talk about “being in the Now” or “living in the Moment”.  It’s catchy and it is becoming common enough of an idea that people have some concept of what one means when they say these phrases. Because I didn’t have another way of expressing how I choose to live, I’ve been known to use these terms myself to certain people, while to others I’ve said that I “go with my gut.”  Never did it occur to me to say that I was just being “natural” until recenty.  I got it from reading the book Realizations, by Dr. William Guillory and it just slapped me in the face like PLADOW!!! It was so easy.

What really tripped me out was how being “natural” has become so unnatural that the word doesn’t even come to mind when trying to describe the state itself.  We are so caught up in concepts and processes that everything we do has to become a formal exercise before we can even consider it legitimate.  Many people have tried to figure me out in my life.  They ask me what I’ve studied or tell me about this or that technique for attaining some particular level of consciousness. I usually just say that I have lived my life and then proceed to break into some concepts to explain what that means because to some degree I have bought into the idea that “natural” is abnormal.  That’s just sad.

In Luke 12:11, 12 Jesus told his disciples  “Now when they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” Then in Matthew 6:34 he said, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” In other words, be “natural”.  Just live Life as it comes.  Be in the Now.  Live in the Moment. I’m telling you He was a genius! I wonder if He knew people were going to do remixes on His lyrics?

Anyway, Dr. Guillory basically breaks it down like this; being “normal” is a way of being that is associated with survival. Essentially, people act “normal” so that they can fit in the group which psychologically we believe will ensure our survival.  In contrast, he says that, “Being natural occurs spontaneously when we let go of our thoughts of ‘how it should be,’ ‘how it could be,’ how it ought to be,’ etc., and just allow it ‘to be like it is.'”  I’d call it walking into a situation empty-minded.

As I said before, I have bought into some of the ideas of normalcy myself and I can admit that in every instance it is based on survival.  In my book, It’s All In Me, I even go so far as to express that my ability to write and articulate my thoughts are a product of my striving to survive in a world where I was not considered “normal”.  There were a lot of times growing up when people from my neighborhoods thought that I was “trying to be white” because of the grammar I used.  They didn’t understand that in my household, my mother and grandmother–who were both teachers–would almost have a heart attack if I didn’t speak with “proper grammar”. 

Since I grew up in their houses, I spoke like them to survive.  But then when I went out to the streets, people thought I talked funny and many wanted to fight me for it.  So, in order to survive I learned to talk like them as well. And on and on from situation to situation I learned to speak the way the other person heard even down to being able to pick up Mandarin Chinese. However throughout it all, there was the thread of “naturalness” that weaved all of my communication ablilities together.  This was because my goal was never to simply survive.  I just wanted to be me and the word exchanges I participated in were just to show the other that I respected them even though I was different than them. I saw this as necessary because I learned early on that many people see difference as a threat even if I don’t.

That realization was so impactful to me at the time that I even told my mother that I wished that I was “mentally challenged” so that people would let me be me and not try to force me to be their idea of “normal”.  She comforted me by saying that I didn’t have to worry because, I must already be “mentally challenged” to say such a thing.  From that time to this I have made my life’s work about respecting and honoring other people’s right to “be” while simultaneously nurturing my own natural expression. It is not easy at all, but in the grand scheme of things I think it is a worthwhile pursuit.  Besides learning to know myself as God “naturally” created me, I believe that in my atmosphere people know that they have the right to be “natural” too.

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